By Evan Merrill
Mt Carmel Register
MOUNT CARMEL -- It's safe to say Wabash Valley College Coach Mike Carpenter's group was ready to return to action after an elongated Christmas break.
His Warriors (8-6) put on a shooting clinic unlike any they've showcased all season, torching Elizabethtown Tech in a 119-55 rout on Monday night in Mount Carmel.
We put this game on this location of the schedule for a reason. It's really the only game we play all season that's not a NJCAA opponent. Coming back from a big break like that, our last game being on the second or third week of December, that's a long layoff, especially when you have nine freshmen who haven't done that before.
That's when the Warriors started to find their rhythm however, and caught red hot from behind the arc in particular, but also continued to crash the offensive glass.
Over the course of the ensuing eight minutes Wabash Valley went on a blistering 25-5 run, exploding the game wide open and shredding Elizabethtown's zone.
They closed the half strong and led 57-30 at the break, a performance which surely came to the delight of Carpenter, though he certainly hoped they could continue that momentum in the second.
He got all he could ask for and then some in the second half, as his Warriors edged Elizabethtown 62-25 in a high flying second half from Wabash Valley.
The Wabash Valley bench was all smiles through the course of the rout, and the players on the court were enjoying it just as much. Whether it be a slam by freshman Karl Jones or a 3-pointer by sophomore Bobby Harvey, their energy, their enthusiasm reflected after every make.
"It's a process, early in the season that wasn't happening," Carpenter spoke of his team's performance. "For a variety of reasons -- we didn't know how to play with each other yet, we didn't understand the offense, we didn't share the ball like we are now. I probably goofed up in making the schedule as tough as I did early on in the season with this many new guys but it is what it is and these guys have done a great job adjusting, learning and improving everyday."
Five Warriors recorded double-figures scoring in the rout, highlighted by a pair of 21-point performances by Harvey and sophomore guard Marcus Garrett. More impressive than anything about the win was the efficiency in which the Warriors shot.
For the game they shot 59 percent, including 43.3 percent from three, 82.4 percent from the free throw line and showcased a sense of unselfishness, setting a new season-high with 32 assists.
"They're going to be special players when it's all said and done," Carpenter said. "We've got so many freshman, so many new guys that we knew it was going to take some time, but they've done a really good job of staying positive and continuing to listen, get better in practice everyday and trust the process. We've been on that since the very start."
The Warriors will look to quickly rest from the dominant victory, as they have a quick turnaround between their next game, Wednesday night against Lincoln Trail.
The Statesmen check in at 11-1, on the brink of cracking the top 25 of the latest NJCAA Division I poll. They'll hope for a similar shooting display against a Lincoln Trail team which figures to present matchup problems for the Warriors.
"It's a huge game on Wednesday," Carpenter spoke of Wednesday's matchup. "They have several guys returning from last year that are going to present some matchup problems. Obviously there's a big rivalry there and we're going to have to be ready to go. I'd love to have big crowd on Wednesday for the women's game and the guys game. Wabash General is our sponsor and hopefully a lot of the hospital employees can come out as well. We need a big crowd here because Lincoln Trail's planning on bringing a big crowd."
Wednesday's contest against Lincoln Trail is set for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off at the Spencer Sports Center.
WVC -- 57 62 -- 119
E -- 30 25 -- 55
Warrior scorers: Garrett 8 2 21, Harvey 7 4 21, Drake 7 0 17, Stanback 6 1 14, Jones 5 3 13, Hamilton 3 0 7, Burks 2 2 6, Rager 2 2 6, Osborne 2 0 5, Weatherspoon 2 0 5, Yusuf 2 0 4.
Up next: hosting Lincoln Trail, Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 7:30 p.m.